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Haiti At A Glance Essay

1539 words - 7 pages

Haiti was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, he had given the island the name
Hispaniola. The natives greeted Columbus with different offerings, not knowing he was taking
land away from them for Spain. The natives of Hispaniola population had dropped
Drastically from 400,000 to 60,000 because of the mortifying ecological, social, immunological,
and political effects of the arrival of Spain. The Spanish control in Hispaniola was weakened
because of pirate activity on the northern coast of Haiti. In 1697, Spain gave France the western
third of Hispaniola, which is known as Haiti today. The Spanish controls the remainder of the
island which is known as the Dominican Republic.

While Haiti was under the control of France, the island’s population consisted of French,
Africans, and mixed-race people. The French has control over the economic structure and had
political power as well. There were as many as 500,000 African slaves and 30,000 freed slaves.
In 1790, the mixed-race population and freed slaves were given their civil rights by the French
authorities, but many of the thousands of slaves were not freed. As a result, a revolution had
begun which was under the leadership of a freed slave by the name of Toussaint L’Ouverture in
1791. He was given the nickname “Black Napoleon” and he led an army of slaves who defeated
the proclaimed French army. Toussaint was eventually captured and killed by the real Napoleon
who was the leader of France at that time. After the death of Toussaint L’Ouverture Lieutenant
General Jean-Jacques Dessalines announced himself as Haiti’s first emperor in 1804. Most of the
killings of whites were ordered by him. Haiti then became the second independent nation in the
Americas in 1804. Haiti has had more than 70 dictators from 1804-1915.

Francois Duvalier (“Papa Doc”) formed the National Security Volunteers in 1957 which was
feared my many. They were named TonTon Macoutes after the Haitian folk figure (“bogeyman”)
kidnaps small children at night. He ruled Haiti for 14 years, but Haiti feared him because
he had put together the TonTon Macoutes. Papa Doc died of chronic diabetes and a weaken heart
at the age of 64. His son Jean-Claude Duvalier then took office as president after the death of his
father. Papa Doc and his son Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) were believers of voodoo and often
practiced rituals and spells. The government had already established voodoo as a state religion
along with Catholicism.

After the Duvalier era Jean-Bertrand Aristide won Haiti’s first democratic election in 1990.
He was in office for less than a year when he was removed from office by a military coup and
Raoul Cedras a military leader ruled Haiti for the next 3 years. Bill Clinton who was president of
the United States at the time authorized an invasion and Aristide was returned to power as Haiti’s
president in 1994. Once he got back into the country one of first task was to destroy the...

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